Mr. Thayer’s lecture was veering from the Revolutionary War to incidentals from his childhood. The hands on the wall clock refused to move. I was being held captive in 5th grade history, the last period of the day.
The only positive was the window. I scanned the parking lot for our station wagon. Today my mother was picking me up and we were going to the Palm Beach Christian Book Store located unabashedly near Worth Avenue where posh people carried dogs in their purses.
My mother would have already purchased floral pillows or rooster decor. She would be dressed as if for the runway, stately and 6 feet. Next to her I would feel a bit like those small dogs, an appendage at best.
But lest you envision my mother as the Baroness from the Sound of Music, she had another side. Peggy loved both Saks and God. And she loved going to Christian bookstores that carried Bible translations, commentaries, biographies, cards and crosses.
And so did I.
I devoured stories of faith. There was Light from Heaven by the prolific Christmas Carol Kauffman, which I read over and over until its characters were ingrained. (I can still recite the opening passage, How Annie loved that baby!)
There was Kenneth Taylor’s Lost on the Trail, which I remember reading for the fifth time while on my parent’s sailboat, oblivious to the sunset, the rolling waves, the tilt of the boat. These books brought to life a relationship with a loving God amid struggles.
The Christian bookstore offered shelves full of faith stories. But best of all it was a place where I could touch mom’s hand at the check-out and receive an approving smile.
When the bell finally blared, overriding Mr. Thayer’s forgettable stories, I dashed toward our station wagon.
Christian bookstores have now drifted online. But when my own daughter was young, there used to be a corner store in suburban Wilmette, reminiscent of my childhood version. And you better believe I took Alex there as often as she was willing. The stories on their shelves had ignited my own faith – and I hoped they would do the same for her.
For me, those bookstores were sacred places where Ms. Kauffman’s “light from Heaven” could shine brightly on mothers and daughters.
Maybe Heaven itself will feature a corner Christian bookstore where I can say thank you to Ms. Kauffman and Mr. Taylor.
And where I can reach out and touch Peggy’s hand and see her smile once again.